Holistic Therapy: Definition, Examples, and Who Can Benefit

Holistic therapy is often used as a supplement to traditional addiction treatment, as it works to help treat the person on the whole, rather than focus on just one area of their being.

This article will dive deeper into what holistic therapy is, how it works, and how it can benefit you or a loved one in recovery.

What Is Holistic Therapy?

Holistic therapy is a form of therapy for various medical and emotional disorders and involves approaches that are outside of conventional, mainstream treatment.1 It takes a whole person approach that emphasizes not looking at just any one aspect of a person’s health, but instead, improving and treating all the aspects of one’s life.1

In an integrated approach, conventional and alternative therapies are used together, such as using psychotherapy and medication along with acupuncture and yoga.1

How Holistic Therapy Works

Ideally, holistic therapy works as a result of a collaboration between a professional and the individual in treatment. They come together to develop an individualized treatment plan that includes both traditional and alternative therapies — such as holistic therapy. The holistic approach will utilize scientific approaches, focus on prevention when possible, and harness the power of the body to heal itself.2

Overall, the goal of holistic therapy is to help a person gain a greater understanding of themselves and increase self-esteem and self-confidence.3

What Does a Holistic Therapist Do?

Holistic therapists focus on a person’s physical, emotional, social, and spiritual well-being.They might use expressive arts, using dance, art, or music to work with people, or use mindfulness practices, including meditation and relaxation techniques, as well as physical approaches such as yoga or Tai Chi.2

Holistic Therapy for Addiction Treatment

equine therapy and addiction treatment

Holistic therapy is often incorporated into addiction treatment through various approaches that address the complete person.There are many substance use disorder treatment programs that use a holistic approach and use such treatment modalities as art therapy, Tai Chi, dance therapy, recreational activities, and spiritual support and development.Numerous programs incorporate at least some types of holistic or alternative therapies, including yoga and mindfulness.4,5

In many integrated approaches to addiction treatment, conventional therapies, such as medication and psychotherapy, are used along with alternative treatment modalities, such as yoga or mindfulness.1

This holistic approach to treating substance use disorders helps achieve long-term recovery, as addressing a person’s specific social, medical, psychological, and environmental needs is critical for effective treatment outcomes.6

Examples of Holistic Therapies Used in Addiction Treatment

Numerous therapies might be used in addiction treatment, and the program should individualize the holistic therapies used in the treatment that works best for the person.2 Some examples of the more commonly used holistic therapies used to help treat addiction include the following:

  • Mindfulness incorporates techniques such as meditation that incorporate affect regulation, which means that mindfulness can help a person accept distressing emotions, which is thought to help reduce the urge to use substances.4
  • Yoga, uses relaxation techniques, controlled breathing, and certain physical poses that all work together to focus on improving the health of both mind and body.5
  • General types of exercise, such as walking or aerobics.
  • Expressive therapy, such as using dance, music, or art therapy, can be used to help treat substance use disorders. For example, a program used an art project to help participants express their life events related to the initiation of substance use.7

What Does Holistic Therapy Treat?

Holistic therapy is highly regarded as one of the many ways to treat addiction.4,5 However, holistic therapy modalities are also used to treat a wide array of conditions.1 For example, Tai Chi, a body movement technique that incorporates gentle movements, mindfulness, and breathing techniques, might also be used to help prevent falls in older people.8

Yoga is often used to help people manage pain, as well as a way to help relieve fatigue in breast cancer survivors, for example.1 Meditation has been used to treat insomnia, high blood pressure, and irritable bowel syndrome.1

Many mental health conditions are also treated with various holistic therapies, including the following:

  • Yoga is used to treat anxiety and depression, as well as to help people manage overall stress.1
  • Yoga, mindfulness, art therapy, and Tai Chi, are all used to treat PTSD.9
  • Relaxation techniques, such as progressive relaxation and guided imagery, are used to help anxiety and depression.10
  • Dance/movement therapy has been used to help treat schizophrenia, showing improvements in processing emotions that can’t be expressed verbally, as well as improving interpersonal skills.11

Benefits of Holistic Therapy for Treating Substance Use Disorders

In treating substance use disorders, holistic therapy can be a helpful experience. For example:

  • Yoga is effective in decreasing substance use, as well as decreasing anxiety in people with substance use disorders.5
  • Mindfulness approaches help improve emotional regulation, which may in turn make it easier for people to avoid substance use.4
  • Exercise can help improve sleep, increase positive emotions, reduce stress, and increase self-esteem, all of which can help a person manage a substance use disorder.2
  • Interactive, expressive therapies, such as music can help people in substance use disorder treatment be able to release emotions. Some other modalities, such as a group-based art project, can increase listening skills and help participants feel more comfortable with social interaction and support.7

How Effective Is Holistic Therapy?

There have been numerous studies that show the effectiveness of various types of holistic therapy. For example, a review of numerous studies of yoga as an intervention in substance use disorder treatment indicated that most studies showed the positive impacts of yoga on substance use and anxiety.5 Recent studies of expressive arts indicate that these holistic therapies can improve rates of program completion, as can more follow-up in aftercare upon leaving treatment and increased commitment to recovery.7

One of the helpful aspects of holistic therapy is that many of these interventions can build healthy habits that a person can continue with after treatment. For example, exercise interventions can encourage the development of long-term health habits that have ongoing positive impacts on recovery and health.2

Get Help Today with Oxford

If you or your loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, you can call Oxford today to get started on your journey to recovery. If you are looking for an inpatient drug and alcohol rehab in Mississippi, Oxford offers quality programming that includes many holistic approaches, provided by compassionate and skilled team members.

Call today to find out about rehab admissions at Oxford. When you call, you can speak to our admissions team members, who can help you learn more about the levels of addiction treatment that we offer. You can discuss your treatment options and learn more about inpatient addiction treatment and outpatient drug and alcohol rehab in Mississippi. Our admission team can also help you find out how your drug and alcohol rehab insurance coverage can be used to help pay for treatment, as well as other rehab payment options.

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